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Let Her Cry—She’ll be Stronger for it

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I follow quite a few parenting blogs. I like to hear parenting from all different perspectives. Recently, I read a fantastic post called Confessions of a Mean Mom: Why I Let Kids Cry and it really got me thinking.

I have a super soft spot for my daughter. The moment I see tears in those puppy dog eyes, I melt. When she’s crying—genuinely crying, not throwing a tantrum—I’m ready to go to the ends of the earth to make sure she’s okay. That’s why the idea of letting her cry was such a foreign concept to me.

Now, to be clear, the post isn’t advocating ignoring your children when they cry. Quite the opposite. It’s about not trying to fix it, but encouraging them to fix it. Think of it as a crash course in emotional development. If you scoop them up and coddle them, your child becomes conditioned to expect a savior every time the world doesn’t make sense. If you help them understand their feelings, they become comfortable dealing with them.

Here’s an example.

Recently, my daughter came to me crying. She was playing outside and dropped one of her toys down a storm drain. She could see it sitting there, about four feet down, but couldn’t get it. She was distraught. So she came to me.

Instead of rushing outside and fishing the toy out of the storm drain, I asked her about the situation. “Calm down and tell me what happened.” She explained it to me, and ended with “now you have to get it out!” I waited a moment and asked her a simple question: “how do I get it out?” Her answer was “you need to reach it, but it’s too far away.” So that prompted a discussion. How do we reach it?

We eventually decided to get two sticks and “chopstick” the toy, pulling it out of the drain. The  whole process took about five minutes. The toy was washed and the world was saved.

But the important thing isn’t the outcome—it was the process. My daughter stopped looking at me as the source of a solution and started talking with me about how to make things better. Once she started talking, she stopped crying and started thinking. I may have come up with the solution, but she was an active participant, instead of an emotional wreck!

This experience and the blog post got me thinking about how it’s okay to not fix everything. Sometimes kids need to cry it out and confront obstacles, instead of having dad knock them down.

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